Besides Pharrell Williams, Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o is having the best year ever so far.
And now with all the accolades and praises she’s received for her talents and beauty, now she is named People magazines Most Beautiful Person of 2014. Today she stopped by the today show to reveal the cover and chat about the honor. Read some of the interview below.
On the PEOPLE cover
It was exciting and just a major, major compliment. I was happy for all the girls who would see me on [it] and feel a little more seen.
What an incredible journey to go from that feeling to being on the cover of this magazine. I mean, you could have never told me that that would happen when I was 16 and insecure about my complexion. I hope it means something to more than just me, to people like me who feel unbeautiful in whatever skin they’re in.
On what she used to think was beautiful
Light skin and long, flowing, straight hair. Subconsciously you start to appreciate those things more than what you possess.[…][My mother] always said I was beautiful and I finally believed her at some point.
On shaving her head bald
It was very strange and very cold! It was scary but I like to dare myself.
The best compliments
…when I have been called beautiful with not one drop of makeup on. And also before I comb my hair or put on a pretty dress. Happiness is the most important thing.
On something strange that’s happened since becoming famous
I was sitting, getting my haircut. Someone passed by and peered in and said, ‘You’re really beautiful,’ and I said, ‘Thank you.’ And he said, ‘You know that girl in 12 Years a Slave? That actress? You look just like her.’ I said, ‘Thank you so much. I was like, ‘That is an interesting scenario.’ But I liked that.
PEOPLE’s editorial director Jess Cagle said it was a no-brainer choosing Lupita because she’s “all the rage” right now.
She is fantastic. Obviously, she is the Oscar winner for 12 Years a Slave, raised in Kenya. She is the new celebrity ambassador for Lancôme Paris, along with Julia Roberts and Penélope Cruz. She’s kind of all the rage. There was really no contest this year. She seemed like the only choice. Usually there’s a lot of debate; this time, we were all in agreement. She’s obviously talented, obviously beautiful, she is incredibly stylish, but the way she carries herself with such grace and such humility, I think it’s what put her over the top.
I fell in love with her right before the Oscars when she gave a speech at the Essence Black Women in Hollywood luncheon, and she spoke really frankly about…having felt unbeautiful when she was a girl. And she would pray for lighter skin. She spoke really openly about her journey to embracing the way that she looked, and then ultimately realizing that physical beauty is not what sustains you,” Cagle added. “I just love her.”